Six months, 12 traffic fatalities. That’s 12 times the number of motor vehicle deaths in Karnes County that were reported a mere four years ago. It is no wonder, then, that Texas Route 239 – near Eagle Ford Shale – has been dubbed “the death trap.”
And it is not because of a particularly dangerous road design or construction. It’s because of congestion.
The increasing number of motor vehicle accidents in Southeast Texas is one of the side effects of the economic oil boom as oil and gas workers flocked to the Eagle Ford Shale and Barnett Shale plays. And most of these deadly accidents involve commercial vehicles – from pickups to oil tankers and gravel trucks.
Roads that used to see one or two big trucks a day now see upward of 500 trucks a day. LaSalle County has seen a 418 percent increase in trucking accidents, and McMullen County a 1,050 percent increase in commercial truck crashes. And experts only believe that these numbers will increase as the population continues to boom. Some believe the oil boom of the Eagle Ford Shale will last another 25 to 30 years.
But it’s not solely the increased population that is leading to the increased truck accident statistics. The population is, arguably, more susceptible to truck accidents. Fatigued oil workers returning home after 16 hour shifts on the rigs, combined with commercial truckers rushing to make deliveries and heavy loads constantly wearing down the roads – these all combine to lead to more fatal truck accidents.
The counties in southeast Texas are looking for ways to improve the road conditions and make them safer for all motorists throughout the Eagle Ford Shale area.
Source: Houston Chronicle, “Traffic deaths soar in Eagle Ford Shale areas,” 7/9/12.